I’ve been noticing a trend for a long time on various movie related blogs and today, I finally decided to say something about it. No, it’s not the fact that many of these well known bloggers think we give a s**t about their political views or their witty insights into the Democratic primaries as that’s for another blog. No, I’m talking about net bloggers and reviewers who use their blog for leverage in order to get things for free. It’s pandering, annoying and childish and I’ve had enough.

My first example, and the one that really keyed me into this annoying net movie reviewer habit comes courtesy of the Kings of the Free Hand-Out, Ain’t it Cool News. “”Moriarty” (one of the many pseudo-named writers for them) posted a little article as an open letter to Sony and his intentions couldn’t have been more clear. The free PS3 they gave him wasn’t working properly even after he sent it back to Sony and now, he’s having a temper-tantrum because he can’t watch his multitude of free Blu-Ray DVD’s sent out to him by various companies that AICN has sucked up to over the years. Reading the piece it’s laughable how you can sort of sense Moriarty’s meltdown phase by phase.

First, Moriarty’s free PS3 didn’t work, then he sent it back. This admittedly, for a movie geek, is tough to do. Go a whole few months without your newest toy? I honestly feel for the guy. But, the system was a free gift for a “”critic” in the industry with some apparent pull. Obviously the PS3 came with an unwritten note reminding Moriarty how much he loves it and to scream it from the mountaintops. And he does so when in the piece he writes, “”Here’s the thing… I’ve been positively evangelical about the PS3 since I got mine. I know I’ve talked at least four friends into buying the machine, and I’ve repeatedly discussed my evolving admiration for just how adaptable and versatile machine it seemed to be.“ Did he also talk his friends into wiping the brown from his nose? But when his free gift didn’t work, Moriarty got huffy. He probably called and emailed them daily and reminded whichever poor lackey at Sony initiated conversation with this mooch that he writes for Ain’t it Cool and his minions and readers will not be happy if he’s not made happy. Then, Moriarty proceeds to show screen caps of all the amazing (free) Blu-Ray DVD’s he won’t be able to watch because Sony dropped a nerd turd in his punchbowl. Rather than rehash the whole thing, I’ll let you check it out here.

My issues with this are as follows. First, why do Blu-Ray DVD’s need to be “”reviewed?” It’s Blu-Ray”¦all the discs look f*****g great. That’s the point of Blu-Ray. And second, since you’re getting them for free, you’re sure as hell not going to say otherwise, are you? Which gets back to the whole central issue with AICN as a website to begin with, but that too is for another blog. Third, Moriarty’s article is clearly an attempt to not only cover his a*s for not reviewing the Blu-Ray discs he was sent, for free to “”review,” but also an attempt to strong arm Sony for making his life of free hand-outs a little harder. It’s not cool. It’s childish and it’s looking a gift horse in the mouth.

The other blogger who I’m taking issue with here is somehow more nefarious. Probably because he isn’t being a petulant child who didn’t get his way. Well, at least not in this case anyway.

Hollywood go-to blogger Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere likes to get that special treatment. Be it advanced copies of scripts, nude outtakes from movies (I keed, I keed”¦sorta) or advance screenings, Jeff has an almost pathological need to be first. In the oh-so-mature pissing contest that goes on between David Poland, Nikki Finke and Wells, it’s Wells who seems to be the one with the least amount of class or at best, the least amount of delicacy. For instance if he wants a script, he throws out a random blog entry that’s not only pure speculation, but also a clear cry for an advance copy of said script.

On Saturday, April 5 Wells blogs, “”In my very limited readings and discussions about David Fincher’s “”The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which is certainly, I’ve begun to tell myself, a formidable contender for the ’08 Best Picture Oscar, it never hit me that Eric Roth’s original March 2005 script is 205 pages long. I’m sure it’s been compressed and pruned down, like any other script that goes before the cameras, but it does seem as if the final film, which comes out 12.19, has a chance of being on the longish side.“

Huh? So”¦you admittedly know no one involved with the film and haven’t heard much about it which means you aren’t getting your daily supplement of a*s-kissing love from the films production. So rather than sit back and wait like the rest of the world, you write that a script you read three years ago seems long? What’s so bad about a film possibly being long, you ask dear reader? Well for whatever reason, long films seem to be as popular as a staph infection. If you don’t believe me that a films length is an issue, ask the producers behind “”The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” or even “”There Will be Blood,” both of which were moronically deemed irrationally lengthy. In the United States of A.D.D., leaking word that a movie is “”long” is akin to saying it’s boring. No matter how stupid that sounds, it’s the truth. So Wells saying he heard that the script is 205 pages (which would make for a 3 and ½ hour film”¦which isn’t happening) is a mini-salvo clearly designed to get Jeff an advance copy of the script. It’s as if he said, “”maybe if someone would send me the script, I could report back at how long it really is and put peoples minds at ease.”

Further proof that Jeffrey Wells seems to need everything handed to him on a silver platter in order for him to do his job and when it isn’t, we get a blog entry like this one last week regarding the new film “”Sex and Death 101.” In the entry, Wells quibbles, “”Sex and Death 101 opens the day after tomorrow (4.4.). Directed and written by Daniel Waters Heathers”), and starring Winona Ryder and Simon Baker. A malevolent R-rated comedy. If only someone had persisted in offering me a chance to see it.”

Again, like Moriarty, Wells is using his blog and his “”pull” therein to make a play for free stuff and when he doesn’t get it, a fit is thrown. Plus, doesn’t it seem that Wells is implying that since no one offered him a free chance to see the film ahead of time, he now won’t give it any coverage? With all the grousing about the state of movie criticism and with so many “”influential people” crying in their popcorn, is it any wonder the movie studios are getting sick of online movie critics and finding less and less use for us?

I’m not going to lie and say I don’t like free stuff or film festivals that are paid for in order to get me to attend and give coverage. I do. However I was also taught common courtesy early on which says you don’t beg or mooch for handouts and you say thanks for what you get (and don’t throw a fit). Plus, free trips to film festivals paid for by the festival don’t guarantee positive film reviews, they just assure someone will (or should) cover a bunch of films at the festival. What these guys are doing here is rude and reflects poorly on the community of net movie writers as a whole. It’s especially galling when it comes from two sites that, for whatever reason, have become touchstones of the internet film review business. I think that with such sensitivity about the state of affairs with film criticism, pandering and whining about freebies and perceived mistreatment should be called out and extinguished and a little more grown up behavior should be demanded. If internet film industry people want to be treated with respect, they should try showing some.

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  1. Mark Bell says:

    It’s industry inertia. As long as something in motion remains in motion, folks don’t question it. Do certain critics hold relevance at some stage in their careers? Yeah. The problem is that once that motion begins, that relevance exists, folks don’t question it, whether it is warranted later on or not.

  2. Sadly, these two blights are listened to more than anyone I know.

    That’s the sad state of affairs when it comes to internet journalism.

  3. Nathaniel says:

    These two “critics” are a blight on the online film review world. They are simply a continuation of the long line of “quote w****s” that have been plaguing the world of film criticism for years.

  4. Interesting indeed. And important.

  5. Interesting blog, Don.

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